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In Joe Biden’s first week as president, Beijing has largely stored the muzzle on its “Wolf Warriors,” the pack of senior Chinese language diplomats who earned that nickname through the Trump years for his or her howling denunciations of the USA. However late Wednesday, Cui Tiankai, China’s ambassador to Washington, issued a warning growl.

“Treating China as a strategic rival and imaginary enemy can be an enormous strategic misjudgment,” he instructed a web-based discussion board, in line with Reuters. “To develop any coverage on the premise of that may solely result in grave errors.”

The remarks had been the primary main pronouncement by a senior Chinese language official on U.S.-China relations since Biden took workplace. Cui confused that China sought peaceable co-existence and cooperation with the USA. He urged leaders from each nations to resolve variations by way of dialogue. However he added a blunt ultimatum: on issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity, China is not going to yield.

“China is not going to again down,” Cui stated. “We hope the USA will respect China’s core curiosity and chorus from crossing the crimson line.”

Cui’s statements comply with per week of consistent messaging by senior Biden officers that the brand new administration has no intention of softening Trump’s onerous line on China. On Friday, newly appointed U.S. Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed in a phone call to his Japanese counterpart, Nobuo Kishi, that the U.S. opposed “any unilateral makes an attempt to vary the established order within the East China Sea,” and would reply to any assault on the Senkaku Islands in accordance with the U.S.-Japan Safety Treaty. The uninhabited rock outcroppings are managed by Japan however claimed by China, which refers to them because the Diaoyu Islands.

On Tuesday, Gina Raimondo, Biden’s nominee for commerce secretary, instructed Congress that the U.S. should develop a “whole-of-government response” to fight unfair Chinese language commerce practices and vowed to make use of the total powers of her workplace to guard America’s telecommunications community from “Chinese language interference.”

In testimony earlier than the Senate International Relations Committee Wednesday, Biden’s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, assailed China as menace to U.S. values. “I see what they’re doing on the United Nations as undermining our values, undermining what we imagine in. They’re undermining our safety. They’re undermining our individuals and we have to work towards that,” Thomas-Greenfield stated. “I can be working aggressively towards Chinese language malign efforts in New York.”

Within the interval between Biden’s victory and the inaugural, many Chinese language consultants spoke giddily of a “reset” of U.S.-China relations beneath the brand new administration. The Biden workforce’s latest rhetoric makes clear that’s not in the cards.

And in at the very least one respect, Beijing sees Biden’s strategy to coping with China as an even bigger menace than Trump’s. A standard chorus of the Biden workforce is that, in contrast to Trump’s go-it-alone China coverage, the brand new president vows to work in coordination with U.S. allies. To Chinese language leaders, that feels like code for pursuing a Chilly Battle “containment technique” to China just like the U.S. standoff with the previous Soviet Union. Cui warned that U.S. efforts to construct a worldwide coalition to extend leverage over China might create “new imbalances.”

It’s simple to dismiss the barrage of indignant rhetoric on each side as political theater. However the extra it escalates, the higher the chance that someday this disagreement might erupt into a really actual struggle between the 2 strongest nations the world has ever recognized.

To assist readers visualize that risk, WIRED journal this week engages in a unprecedented thought experiment. It’s devoted its whole February print problem to an excerpt of 2034: A Novel of the Subsequent World Battle, a brand new ebook by novelist Elliott Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis. It’s fiction however vividly and plausibly imagines how geopolitics, expertise, and human miscalculation can spin uncontrolled—and what can go unsuitable when Beijing and Washington begin crossing every others’ “crimson traces.”

Extra Eastworld information beneath.

Clay Chandler
clay.chandler@fortune.com

This version of Eastworld was curated and produced by Grady McGregor. Attain him at grady.mcgregor@fortune.com

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